Monday, June 28, 2010

Open Hands

I heard a song on the radio today.  I don't remember the exact words but the song was talking about living with open hands.  I have heard this song multiple times but this is the first time that I got it.

To live with open hands is to be prepared to give at all times.  You cannot give with clinched fists.

To live with open hands is also to be prepared to receive at all times.  You cannot receive blessings from others with clinched fists.

Open your hands and open your heart. 

Are your hands open?

If not, what do you need to let go of?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Daily Grind

I heard a story the other day about a boy that has a problem with his eye.  Not that he needed glasses but he was seeing way more than double vision (think decavision if that's possible).  When he was about 5 years old he had corrective surgery that was supposed to heal him.  The surgery helped for a little while but eventually his vision problems came back.  He and his parents have tried many things but the only thing that seems to work is eye exercises.  The now approx. 10 year old has a 30 minute eye focusing/exercise plan that he must do twice a day, everyday. 

This is a great reminder that in order to get our desired results, we must have a daily plan.  In a world of get rich quick schemes, gastric bypass surgeries, 3 minute abs, and speed read the Bible we often forget the importance of the daily grind.  Not that any of these things are wrong, because they have helped many people achieve their desired financial, health, physical, and spiritual results.  However, it is important to remember that it is usually not the big, quick, and magical events that change, heal, improve, challenge, or inspire us.  Rather it is our daily approach, attitude, focus, and exercises that shape us into the people we desire to be. 

What daily exercises do you need to start today to become a better ______________?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


There are times in our life when we have to make tough decisions.  It is usually a decision to start, stop, or change something that you are comfortable with.  Leadership guru Andy Stanley said, "Generally speaking, you are never going to be more than 80% certain when it comes to making tough decisions."  If you are 100% certain then you are not challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.  Growth rarely happens within our comfort zone. 

I don't know what tough decisions you are facing but I do know that it is always great to receive confirmation.  It doesn't happen right away but it is a great feeling when you look back on the past weeks, months, or years and realize that the tough decision you made was certainly the correct one.  Who knows, if you had waited for that 100% confirmation before you made the decision you might still be waiting.  

Sometimes you need to make tough decisions and wait for confirmation rather than the opposite.

Be challenged.  Take a step of faith outside of your comfort zone and experience some new growth.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

It's Father's Day and Dad's are so hard to shop for.  At least my Dad is.  I mean what do you get the Man who taught you how to ride a bike, hit/throw/catch/shoot/kick a ball, shoot a BB gun, tie a tie, study, drive, do magic tricks, scare people, pee outside, buy a house/car, invest, go to church, work hard, shave, and so much more?  Any gift I get will be nothing compared to the food, water, shelter, clothing, toys, electronics, car, education, lessons, etc... that my Dad provided for me.  (Thank you for teaching me all of these things dad.  I hope my future kids feel the same about me as I feel about you.)

And then I remember what I learned on Mother's Day and I will give the best gift that I can give:  Some Quality Time.  For me it's a Redhawks game, watching the game that my Dad taught me how to play and love.  For you it could be fishing, golfing, camping, hiking, painting, wood-working, or whatever your Dad likes to do.  You can give your Dad any gift you want, but remember to add some quality time.

Unfortunately, I am also aware that not everyone had the privilege of being raised by a Father so their Mom had to do double duty.  If that is the case, please make sure you recognize your Mom (or other father figure) for the extra work they took on to provide for you.  Might as well spend some extra quality time with them.  Remember, time is finite.  It is the only gift that cannot be returned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Million Miles...

I just read the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz).  It was by far the best book I have read in a while.  Without giving you a summary, here are a few reasons why I liked it and think you will too.

1.  It's an easy read.  This book just kept flowing and I couldn't put it down.  I read the whole thing on a round trip flight.  Although the reading is light the writing is very deep.  I promise that will make sense once you read it.

2.  It's thought provoking.  While reading through the authors story you can't help but reflect and examine your own story.

3.  It's challenging.  You can learn how to create a better story for yourself and your family.  It's like reading a self-help book in story form and much more entertaining.

4.  It's funny.  Donald Miller's writing style is very conversational and people looked at me as I laughed out loud on the plane while reading it.

5.  It's sad.  I didn't cry but my throat got a little lumpy once or twice.

I could go on but I would rather you read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  Hit up Barnes and Noble or check it out at your local library. 

Learning is a Drug.  Get Addicted.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Smooth Shaving Secrets

I strongly dislike shaving.  It doesn't seem to matter the razor, shaving cream, before/after/during shower, or aftershave.  Razors are very expensive and I can only get a good shave or two with a brand new razor but that's about it.  I even bought something from an infomercial that is supposed to sharpen your razor blades. (it doesn't)

After years of research I finally found 2 secrets to smooth shaving:  Shaving Oil and Ziploc Baggies.

1.  Shave Secret.  That's what it's called.  It is a tiny bottle of natural oils to put on your face (or legs I suppose).  You are supposed to be able to use it alone but I usually put it on and then apply shaving cream on top of it.  It works wonders and you can find it at Wal-Mart. 

2.  Ziploc Baggies.  Put your razor in one while you aren't using it.  Apparently the razor blades are so fine that once you get them wet the oxidation process (rust) begins.  Although you probably can't see it, it damages the blades.  But if you put the razor in a Ziploc bag or any airtight container it slows down the process.  I tried this and nearly tripled the life of my razor!!!

Save yourself some time, money, and razor burn by getting some Shave Secret and putting your razor in a baggie in between uses.

This sounds kind of like an infomercial but this has truly changed my shaving experience so I thought I would share it with others.

Learning is a Drug.  Get Addicted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Makeover & Content

If you are a "faithful follower" of this blog you may notice a few subtle changes to the layout.  The appearance may look a little different but the content will be the same.  I guess you could say I gave it a makeover.  I don't anticipate an increase in readers, I just like to keep things fresh.

Companies do this with their products all the time.  Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Doritos, Sun Chips, Snickers, Gatorade, and even the Great Value brand at Wal-Mart have recently received makeovers.  The product is still the same but the appearance is a little different.  The "faithful customers" may be a little annoyed because they liked it the way it was but will quickly get use to it.  I assume this is done to stay up with the times and possibly catch the eye of a new customer or to simply keep from becoming stagnant. 

The same is also true with people.  People work out, eat healthy, buy new clothes and makeup, get a haircut and color, buy a new house, car, or iPad and we usually call this a makeover.  The appearance has changed but the content/product/person remains the same.

I am not suggesting that makeovers are bad, in fact I think they are healthy from time to time.  But remember this.  In the same way you like a blog/book/magazine for its content, people like you for your content.  Just like you enjoy a Dr. Pepper, Gatorade, Snickers, or any item for its content/product, people like you for your content/product.  And as you admire a person for their personality, heart, and character, others admire you for whats on the inside; your content.

Makeovers are great as long as you don't expect them to improve content.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Setting the Standard

My wife and I were in New York City for the day and one of the things I was really excited to do was get a hotdog from a street vendor.  I heard that they are supposed to be the best around and I had a lot to choose from as they are on every street corner.  Even though they are all the same I picked out a good vendor and got a New York hotdog with everything on it because I wanted to get the full effect.  To my dismay it wasn't all that special.  I also had a hotdog on the National Mall in DC that was better but still ordinary.  

It is weird to say but my standard for hotdogs is pretty high.  Nothing beats a Chicago Dog from Wrigley Field.  Great tasting meat with sauteed onions and peppers with a dill pickle spear.  Spectacular!  Best I have ever tasted.  So far, nothing has ever come close to the taste of a Chicago Dog.  When you have experienced the best nothing else compares.  

I'm not here to talk about hotdogs but about setting standards.  What sets the standards for you?  Or better yet, WHO?  Why do they set the standard?  What makes those people different from everyone else?  

What about you?  Do you set the standard?  What makes you different from everyone else?  In what ways can you begin to set the standard?

Be a Chicago Dog!  Set the Standard!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Weeds vs Flowers

While working in the yard over the weekend I realized something obvious yet enlightening.  Weeds grow faster and easier than flowers.  To grow flowers you must put forth the effort of planting, watering, nurturing, fertilizing, and pruning.  To grow weeds you have to...well, not do anything.

The same is true with good and bad habits.  Developing good habits takes action.  Not only is it important to eat healthy, exercise, pray, keep a budget, spend quality time with friends & family, etc... but also to do it on a daily basis so it naturally becomes a part of who you are.

Developing bad habits is easy as it takes inaction, typically involving selfishness and laziness.  And if no action is taken on a daily basis it will also naturally become a part of who you are.

In the long run, it is easier and more fulfilling to consistently nurture your yard (develop good habits) than it is to wait until it gets bad enough to pull all the weeds (bad habits).  Not to mention, there is something attractive about a yard or flowerbed that is well taken care of.

What good habits do you need to begin nurturing today?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Be Debt Free

Are you in debt?  If so you're not alone.  Most American's are these days.  It is very easy to fall into debt with society and the media indirectly encouraging it.  It's sad to say but to be living with debt is to be normal.  But as you know, debt can sometimes be too heavy to carry.

I'm not sure how much you owe but how would you feel if someone wanted to pay off all of your debts?  No tricks or gimmicks.  All you had to do was ask them to write the check and they would pay everything that you owe.  Would you do it?  I mean this would change your life forever!

Think about what it would be like to not have to worry about debt?  Your sleep, relationships, and health would all improve as your stress dropped.  All feelings of guilt would be gone.  Without debt you could experience total freedom!

That's assuming you would even ask.  Would you?  You wouldn't have to pay it back. I know you might want to but it would be unnecessary.  No, you can't ask them to pay for half the debt.  It doesn't work that way.  It's all or nothing.

I know it feels weird because you didn't do anything to earn it.  But if you could get out of debt on your own then you probably would have already.  This is a gift.  The amount doesn't matter as there is no such thing as too little or too much debtDebt is debt.  All you have to do is ask and your debt will be washed away! 

Sin is often referred to as debt in the bible.  Read it again but change the word DEBT to the word SIN.

HE paid a debt He did not owe.  I owed a debt I could not pay.
Simply ask and be debt free.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Be More Specific

I recently celebrated my 27th birthday.  To be honest I wasn't too excited about it except for the fact that it was the last day before summer vacation.  Little did I know, my wife arranged for me to receive 27 encouraging letters from 27 of my favorite people.  I received them randomly throughout the day and each one made my day brighter and brighter.  By the way, this is a wonderful idea.  This is one of my favorite birthday gifts and it didn't cost any money.  The best things in life really are FREE!

It is always great to receive kind and encouraging words from anyone.  However, it is so much better to receive specific expressions of encouragement and appreciation from the people we love, admire, and respect.  In other words, telling someone "You're doing a great job!" is nice but it is better to take the time to tell them exactly what you like about them and why.  It could be a letter, email, facebook message, text, phone call, or a good old fashioned look 'em in the eye compliment.  It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you do it.  Don't assume they know how you feel.  Speak up and let them know.

Who can you specifically encourage today?  I promise it will make their day.

Thank you to everyone that took the time to make me feel special on my birthday...especially my wonderful wife!  I will never forget it!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lessons From a New Car

My wife and I recently bought a new car.  Here are 3 things I have learned since we bought it.

1.  We take care of what's new. A bird had the audacity to leave some droppings on the hood of our new car.  And because it is new, I got a napkin from the glove box, a bottle of water, and immediately washed it off.  I have never done that before...but then again I've never had a new car before.

I think this is true for everything.  Cars, houses, shoes, and relationships all receive more attention when they are new.  We must make it a point to take care of what we have.  "The grass is always greener where it is watered."

2.  Earning something makes you more appreciative.  My wife and I have only driven used cars; very used.  Although our "new" car is actually a 2007, we feel like it's brand spankin' new since we have never purchased a car younger than 8 years old.  Going from a '96 to a '07 is a major step up.

No matter how much money you have, a 16 or 18 year old should never have a new car.  Your first job should be one that you despise.  Your first girlfriend/boyfriend should break your heart.  Your first wardrobe should be hand-me-down.  Your first vacation should be to a museum in a neighboring state.  When you work hard and go through tough times you sure appreciate the good stuff.

3.  Stay within your budget.  Pay cash if you can.  If you can't then figure out the monthly payments you can afford.  Then buy a car half that.price.  Let's be honest.  A car is merely for getting you from A to B and if it looks cool then that is a bonus.  Too many people do the opposite.  Not to mention, it just feels good to buy something under your budget.

BTW, we bought a Chevy Malibu Maxx and love it!